Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Anxiety in Parkinson's Disease Induces Functional Brain Changes

Guillaume Carey*, Renaud Lopes, Anja J H Moonen, Anne E P Mulders, Joost J A de Jong, Gregory Kuchcinski, Luc Defebvre, Mark L Kuijf, Kathy Dujardin, Albert F G Leentjens

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


BACKGROUND: Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) reduces anxiety symptoms in patients with Parkinson's disease (PD).

OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to identify changes in functional connectivity in the brain after CBT for anxiety in patients with PD.

METHODS: Thirty-five patients with PD and clinically significant anxiety were randomized over two groups: CBT plus clinical monitoring (10 CBT sessions) or clinical monitoring only (CMO). Changes in severity of anxiety symptoms were assessed with the Parkinson Anxiety Scale (PAS). Resting-state functional brain MRI was performed at baseline and after the intervention. Functional networks were extracted by an Independent Component Analysis (ICA). Functional connectivity (FC) changes between structures involved in the PD-related anxiety circuits, such as the fear circuit (involving limbic, frontal, and cingulate structures) and the cortico-striato-thalamo-cortical limbic circuit, and both within and between functional networks were compared between groups and regressed with anxiety symptoms changes.

RESULTS: Compared to CMO, CBT reduced the FC between the right thalamus and the bilateral orbitofrontal cortices and increased the striato-frontal FC. CBT also increased the fronto-parietal FC within the central executive network (CEN) and between the CEN and the salience network. After CBT, improvement of PAS-score was associated with an increased striato-cingulate and parieto-temporal FC, and a decreased FC within the default-mode network and between the dorsal attentional network and the language network.

CONCLUSION: CBT in PD-patients improves anxiety symptoms and is associated with functional changes reversing the imbalance between PD-related anxiety circuits and reinforcing cognitive control on emotional processing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-103
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Parkinsons Disease
Issue number1
Early online date29 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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